“Lucky and blessed…”
“Surrounded by wonderful people…”
“Looking forward to helping others….”
These are all ways that Jennifer Blewer describes the circumstances that she and her husband Craig find themselves in today. She has a joyful and contagious enthusiasm when she talks about her situation that is really amazing.
Frankly, from the outside looking in, one might think that the family is far from lucky. The truth is that Jen and her husband have gone through some tough times in the last few years. A blended family of seven, Jen and Craig live in an apartment with three of their four younger children. When he was in his mid-twenties, her husband began having problems with his vision and was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. The disease has taken its toll and has affected his health and balance, so that he is on disability. Jen works part time at a local restaurant to pay the bills and their high school age son lives with his grandmother, so that the rest of the family will have more room in their apartment.
Good things began to happen last May. Jen’s cousin Denise told them about an application meeting at Dorchester Habitat for Humanity. They met Jaye (Dorchester Habitat’s director) and learned about the program. The next step was to schedule a meeting right away with Carolyn at the Home Ownership Resource Center. They attended workshops on financial planning to reduce debt and enjoyed meeting other home owners. It took them just a couple of weeks to meet the program’s guidelines by attending workshops and meeting the financial criteria. Once Jen and her husband saw that there was hope of actually owning their own home, they began to work like crazy to make that dream come true.
One day while she was working at Zaxby’s, Jen got a phone call from Mr. Bob, the Construction Supervisor for Habitat, with good news. Their family had been chosen to receive the next home scheduled to be built; The Women Build House for 2014! The staff at Zaxby’s, their friends and church family, had all been praying for them and were SO excited that they would have a home they could call their own.
Now the real work of transformation would begin! Every new Habitat homeowner has to put a certain number of hours of “sweat equity” into the construction of not only their own home, but also 60 hours on another home that is in the works. Jen and Craig have been volunteering every Thursday and Saturday with Jen’s work supervisor doing everything he can to accommodate her construction schedule. Craig has to visit Hollings Cancer Center for infusions monthly, but he has been involved in home site construction and work at the ReStore at every opportunity.
Jen’ family will have one of the new homes on Weber Drive. Construction began in May and the home should take 3-4 months to finish. They hope to be moving in by the end of August, just in time for her teens to begin new schools.
So what are they looking forward to the most? All 4 children are thrilled at the prospect of having a front-yard and a backyard of their very own. Jen is looking forward to painting new rooms with the colors she loves, decorating and taking photos of her children that will hang on her very own walls. The families’ new house payment AND utilities payment together, will be less than they are paying now in rent.
“I feel very blessed to have all the support that we have had. My husband felt like he could make real contributions to the non-profit organization Habitat’s ReStore when he couldn’t be at the work site and that was inspirational for him. We have had a lot of volunteers who know us and who have also donated their work hours to us. We will have had 425 volunteer hours total and are looking forward to every minute. Caulking windows is my personal favorite home site job! After you have been blessed, you want to help others get into their homes. We are looking forward to sharing our experiences with homeowners who are following in our footsteps.”